Is Depression More Common In Women Than Men?

Depression can strike at any phase of life. The risk of depression exists independent of race or ethnicity. It has been extensively documented that there are gender disparities in depression prevalence, with women experiencing major depression more frequently than men.

According to a study in 2017 by Salk RH, Hyde JS, and Abramson LY. Gender differences in depression in representative national samples: Meta-analyses of diagnoses & symptoms, gender disparities emerge at the age of 12, while girls and women experience depression twice as compared to men.

Several risk factors have been associated with gender differences in rates of depression. Hormonal changes are the reason behind the occurrence of certain mood changes & depressed feelings. But there are also other factors like inherited traits, biological characteristics, and personal life circumstances that can trigger depression in women.

Here’s What Contributes To Depression In Women-

A need to know about depression in women

Hormonal Changes-

Hormonal changes during puberty increase the risk of developing depression. After puberty, the risk of depression is higher in females than males. Women’s peak onset of depressive disorders overlaps with their reproductive years, i.e., 25-44 years of age.

The premenstrual syndrome may often cross a line into premenstrual dysphoric disorder- a type of depression. It is due to the cyclic changes in estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones. Dramatic hormonal changes occur during pregnancy which can also increase the risk of developing depression in females.

Other hormonal factors that contribute to a women’s risk for developing depression are sex differences related to the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis and thyroid function. (Caliskan, D., Oncu, B., Kose, K., Ocaktan, M.E. and Ozdemir, O., 2007)

Socialization Differences-

Research claims that gender differences in socialization could play a significant role in developing the risk of depression. Generally, females are socialized to be more sympathetic and nurturing to the opinion of others. At the same time, males are encouraged to develop a greater sense of mastery and independence in their lives. Masculine gender socialization emphasizes norms like impassiveness, toughness, and the avoidance of anything alleged as feminine, including displays of emotion. (Kiuru, N., Burk, W.J., Laursen, B., Nurmi, J.E. and Salmela-Aro, K., 2012)

Social Roles-

It has been hypothesized that women who are housewives and mothers may find their role diminished by society. At the same time, women who pursue careers may face discrimination and job inequality which can arise conflict between their roles as a mother, a wife, and their work. This could be a primary reason for developing depression among women.

Life Circumstances And Culture-

Depression in women is not exclusively due to biology alone. Life circumstances and cultural stressors can also play a significant role. These circumstances occur in men, too, though at a lower rate.

These Are Some Of The Factors That May Increase The Risk Of Depression in Women

Women need to cope with depression
  1. Unequal power and status.
  2. Work overload.
  3. Sexual or physical abuse.

Other conditions that occur with depression:-

Women with depression also have particular mental health conditions that need to be treated as soon as possible, which includes-

  1. Anxiety.
  2. Eating disorder.
  3. Drug or alcohol misuse.

Takeaway-

Depression is a complex condition that does not have a particular single cause. Additional research is required to understand the sex differences in rates of depression and its treatment. The existing research suggests that biological differences between women and men play a significant part in explaining the difference. Cultural expectations, gender roles, and diagnosis of depression in men may also contribute to these factors of depression.

(Khalil, A.H., Rabie, M.A., Abd-El-Aziz, M.F., Abdou, T.A., El-Rasheed, A.H. and Sabry, W.M., 2010)

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